Chungking Express

If you haven’t seen a film by Wong Kar-wai, one of the most exciting and original younger Hong Kong filmmakers, this charming and energetic two-part comedy is a good place to start. Though less ambitious than Days of Being Wild or Ashes of Time, the Wong films that precede and follow it–Chungking Express is in many ways the most accessible of the three. (Quentin Tarantino selected this film as the first he would distribute through Miramax, though the fact that his name isn’t being featured in the ads and that Miramax is soft-peddling this important release makes one wonder how committed either of them is.) Both stories here are set in contemporary Hong Kong and deal poignantly with young policemen striving to get over unsuccessful romances and having unconventional encounters with other women–a mob hit woman in the first, an infatuated fast-food waitress in the second. Wong’s singular frenetic visual style and his special feeling for lonely romantics may remind you of certain French New Wave directors, but this movie isn’t a trip down memory lane; it’s a vibrant commentary on young love today, packed with punch and personality. With Brigitte Lin, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Tony Leung, and Faye Wong (1995). Fine Arts.

–Jonathan Rosenbaum

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): film still.

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